How to Prevent Back Pain with Household Chores

If a household chore is not done with proper biomechanics, you are more likely to strain you back muscles resulting in pain.  Lots of household chores are repetitive so it is a good rule of thumb to use both the right and left side of your body equally to avoid an overuse injury.  Check out the tips below highlighting some specific household chores and body positioning that will decrease strain on your back muscles.

  1. Washing dishes– to decrease back strain at the sink, open the base cabinet and put your foot up on the ledge to become closer to the sink.
  2. Vacuuming– Walk with the vacuum or lunge forward onto one foot keeping your back straight, rather than bending forward with each push of the vacuum.
  3. Making the bed– Put one knee down on the bed when fastening a sheet to the corner of the mattress or squat to fasten it.
  4. Grooming– Put one hand down on the counter in the bathroom while using the other to brush your teeth or shave. Also, you can put a foot up onto the ledge of the base cabinet as in the kitchen.

Stretching 101

To get the most out of stretching to prevent injury and muscle soreness, dynamic stretching should be performed before your workout and static stretching performed after your workout.  If you perform a static stretch before you workout, there is more potential to tear a muscle due to the lack of blood flow at the muscle.

To get the most benefit out of static stretching, make sure you hold the stretch at a point you feel a pull within the muscle. The stretch should be held between 15-60 seconds.  Perform 2-3 repetitions of each stretch on both sides of your body. If a stretch is painful, you should decrease the range of motion of the stretch.

If you are unsure what muscle groups to stretch in association with your workout, contact Harbor Physical Therapy.  Our physical therapists can create you a customized stretching program.

Fall Prevention

Falls in the elderly population can lead to serious injury and should be avoided at all cost. Multiple factors place a person at an increased risk for falls. These factors include advanced age, poor vision, muscle weakness, poor balance, fear of falling, and home and environmental hazards. There are many steps that you can take to prevent falls. Here are just a few:

  1. Keep rooms in your home free of clutter to prevent tripping.
  2. Walk in shoes that have a good grip. Avoid wearing socks to decrease your risk of slipping.
  3. Keep your home well-lit to avoid tripping on objects that are hard to see.
  4. Make sure that all rugs in the home, as well as the bathtub and shower floor are nonslip.
  5. Stay active to improve strength, balance, and flexibility.

If you have a history of falls, are fearful of falling, or feel that you have problems with walking, balance, or decreased strength, a visit to a physical therapist can help to address these issues and prevent any falls in your future.

Written By: Dr. David Reymann

Home Safety Tips

Every year, there are many injuries and fatalities that are caused by a lack of home safety. There are many different ways you can modify your home and your daily routine to ensure safety. Here is a list of home safety tips:

1. Secure scatter rugs.

2. Have contrasting colors on transitions into different rooms, stairs, and different level surfaces.

3. Avoid using cleaners that make the floor slippery.

4. Always wear supportive shoes/slippers without an opening back.

5. Avoid walking in socks without grippers.

6. Have a night light to your bathroom.

7. Make sure steps have a non-slip surface.

8. Make sure you have proper lighting in all areas.

9. Make your bath/shower skid proof.

10. Purchase a non-slip bath mat.

11. Store heavy items below shoulder level.

12. Avoid wearing loose clothing while cooking on the stove.

13. Check expiration dates on food and medications.

14. Take your medication in a well-lit room.

15. If you have a medical history and or history of falls, invest in a medical alert system.

16. Remove clutter from your floors to avoid tripping.

17. Do not put too many electric cords into one socket.

18. Install a smoke detector.

19. If using a space heater, make sure it is 3 feet away from anything that could burn.

Common Injuries At the Gym

1. Muscle Strain– There are different degrees of muscle strains from a minor overstretching injury to a tear. To avoid muscle strains, make sure you warm up appropriately and do not lift more weight than you can handle.

2. Tendonitis-is caused by a repetitive strain to the tendon of the muscle. If you overwork a muscle, you can develop tendonitis.

3. Bursitis– is inflammation to the bursa. A Bursa is a fluid filled sac that provides decrease friction and helps to give a fluid movement to the joint. Avoid doing the same exercises all the time; change it up to avoid overuse of one particular area.

4. Back injury– due to placing increase stress on your back muscles with exercises. Avoid forward bent over postures at the gym. Bend with your knees and tighten your abdominal muscles during exercises. This will help decrease the likelihood of a back injury.

5. Shoulder impingement injury– can occur when you overuse the rotator cuff muscles. The rotator cuff muscle can rub against the top part of the shoulder blade, producing pain. Avoid overhead weighted exercises.

If you experience pain while you are working out, you should stop and apply ice. If the pain persists for more than 3 days, contact your physician or your local physical therapist at Harbor Physical Therapy.

Are you a fall risk?

Falls are the number one cause of accidental death in adults over 65 years of age. Here are 3 questions you should ask yourself to determine if you are a fall risk:

1. Have you fallen in the past 6 months?
2. Are you afraid of falling?
3. Do you feel the need to use your arms to rise from chairs or hold onto objects to maintain your balance?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, it might indicate that you may be a fall risk. A quick screening test done by a physical therapist to determine if a patient is a fall risk is called the “Sit to Stand” test. It is used to categorize patients into high, moderate or low fall risk.
Here is the Sit to Stand test in a nutshell:

1. The patient is asked to sit in the middle of the chair with their feet flat on the floor and arms folded across their chest.
2. Come to a full stand and return to a complete sitting position.
3. Repeat as many times as they are able to in 30 seconds.

Results:
8 or less times in 30 seconds = High Risk
9 to 12 times in 30 seconds = Moderate Risk
13 or more times in 30 seconds = Low Risk

If you are in the moderate to high fall risk category, make an appointment with your local physical therapist to prevent future falls.

Core Strengthening

The core muscles include upper abdominal muscle, rectus abdominus , lower abdominal muscle, transverse abdominus, internal and external oblique muscles, and lower back muscles.

Strength and power originate from the center of the body. The core stabilizes the body with arm and leg movement. If the core is weak, you have a greater chance of back injury. If the core muscles are strong, it decreases the likelihood of back injury with pulling, pushing, lifting, bending, and reaching. A strong core improves posture, balance, stability, and endurance during activity.

If you want to learn how to perform core strengthening exercises, contact Harbor Physical Therapy.

Tips to Decrease the Likelihood of an Injury at the Gym

  1. Do a balanced program. Work your whole body; don’t concentrate on just a few muscles.
  2. Use good form and technique. Don’t hyperextend the knee with the leg press, don’t let your knee go past your toes with squats or lunges, and don’t use momentum to lift heavy weight.
  3. Exercise through the entire range of motion to get optimal results.
  4. Do not lift weights too often or increase the intensity too quickly. Increase at a consistent gradual progression to avoid injury.
  5. Cross train so your body does not get used to the workout.
  6. Work on your core muscles. Strengthening your abdominals can help prevent back injuries.
  7. If you have back pain, avoid excess loads on the spine.  Such as, squats with weight, the lumbar extension machine, and twisting exercises.
  8. If you have shoulder pain, avoid overhead weighted exercises and any exercise where the arms lift out to the side.

If you experience pain while you are working out, you should stop and apply ice.  If you continue to have discomfort with exercise, contact Harbor Physical Therapy to decrease your pain with exercise and find out how to avoid pain with exercise.

Top 10 Summer Sports with the Most Injuries

As reported by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), listed below is the top 10 list of summer sports that statisically have resulted in the most reported injuries.  

If you have suffered from any injuries playing a sport or would like to learn how to prevent an injury during sport, please make an appointment at Harbor Physical Therapy.

Sports

Injuries

Cost

Basketball

1,633,905

$19.7 billion

Bicycles

1,498,252

$28.6 billion

Baseball

492,832

$6.6 billion

Soccer

477,647

$6.7 billion

Softball

406,381

$5.1 billion

Trampolines

246,875

$4.1 billion

Inline Skating

233,806

$4.2 billion

Horseback riding

196,260

$4.9 billion

Weightlifting

189,942

$2.7 billion

Volleyball

187,391

$2.1 billion